Photo: Baci ceremony, Luanag Prabang.

Culture and politics forum

Preah Vihar and the Thai-Cambodian love/hate relationship

Posted by sayadian on 8/10/2009 at 20:52

I just thought this was a very thoughtful and interesting article on Thai Cambodian relations.
This is a small quote the full article in the Bangkok Post can be found here.

'Professor Chanvit Kasetsiri rightly noted that among the neighbouring countries of Southeast Asia, none seems more similar to Thailand than Cambodia. Both nations share similar customs, traditions, beliefs and ways of life. This is especially true of royal customs, language, writing systems, vocabulary, literature, and the dramatic arts. In light of these similarities, it seems surprising, therefore, that relations between Thailand and Cambodia should be characterised by deep-seated "ignorance, misunderstanding and prejudice". Indeed, the two countries have what can be termed a "love-hate relationship".'

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/10/2009 at 12:17

I would have said that Laos and Thailand have more in common - particularly in language. Socially I find the Khmer to be pretty tough, without the Thai or Lao veneer of sweetness that makes it so pleasant to live here. But maybe others have a different view on it, as I am certainly no expert on the Khmer.

This border dispute, however, is a lot more about local politics in each location than about the site itself. That is what is preventing a reasonable settlement of the dispute. Like the conflict over Badme between Ethiopia and Eritrea - two bald men fighting over a comb.

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Posted by Rufus on 10/10/2009 at 08:48

This dispute has escalated since the advent of the Yello Shirts. Their over zealous nationalism is an attempt to divert attention from domestic politics. Abhisit, of course, could not run a pub on a free day.

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Posted by MADMAC on 10/10/2009 at 11:46

Actually I think Abhisit is doing a credible job. It's not his competence I question. The issue is the legitimacy of his taking holding the office in the first place. But Hun Sen, in his incredible obtuseness manner, loves to periodically make inflammatory statements (I wonder if he's somehow related to Ahmedinijad?). I don't see the "Yellow shirts" as being the only inflaming faction here, however. When the Reds won the last election and were in governance, they too were firmly oppossed to yielding control of the site.

The one area where I truly fault the Thai side in this discussion (as with the Ethiopians concerning Badme) is that the Thais agreed to arbitration, and then rejected same when arbitration went against their claim. It's not that I'm unsympathetic to their original arguement, but if you agree to submit to arbitration, you sully your honor by not following through if you lose the arguement to an arbitrator. Neither side has covered itself in glory on this one, but the Thai side has really gone the extra mile to make itself look bad.

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Posted by MADMAC on 10/10/2009 at 11:57

This thing really needs an edit function... I look at the grammatical errors of my own posts and I cringe. They come from being interrupted while typing. Of course I should proof before I hit post, but still, and edit function would be nice.

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